The El is what Philly lifers call the “Blue Line” or the Market-Frankford Line.
Why is The El called The El?
The train, which takes riders from the Frankford Transportation Center to 69th Street, is elevated above the city except between 2nd and 40th streets, where it runs underneath Market Street. Because it’s the elevated train, it’s been called “The El” for forever.
A brief history of The El
The 5.25 mile-long Frankford Elevated section was built between 1915 and 1922 and began regular service from Northeast Philly to Center City on November 5, 1922.
Daily ridership on the line peaked at 250,000 in the 1940s. After years of shutting down The EL between midnight and 5am, SEPTA, in 2014 began all-night service, boosting its ridership to 15,000 riders a week.
The El and “A Love Letter For You”
While riding The El has typically been about getting from Point A to Point B, Philly-born graffiti artist Stephen Powers turned it into an art project in 2009.
Powers teamed up with Mural Arts Philadelphia to paint the epic “A Love Letter For You,” a series of rooftop murals between 45th and 63rd streets.
Today, Mural Arts occasionally offers a “Love Letters Tour”—usually around Valentine’s Day. In 2011, a local couple was even married on the special “Love Train,” with then-Mayor Michael Nutter officiating.
The practical info and map
- The El schedule
- How much it costs to ride The El and other SEPTA trains
- Details about the all-night weekend service
- Info about bike and ride
Additional reporting provided by Josh Middleton